The Philomath Frolic and Rodeo’s cornhole tournaments have become very popular and this year’s winners will receive custom-made boards. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Editor's Note

The Philomath News sat down with Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s Chris Workman, who handles publicity as part of his role on the organization’s board of directors, to talk about this year’s celebration. This is the fourth in a series of four preview stories for the Frolic, which begins July 5 with a single evening activity and runs through July 8.

Seventy years ago, the Philomath Buckaroo and Loggers’ Frolic made its debut through the efforts of three local couples — Clarence and Inez Marstall, Walter and Ida Pflughaupt and Melvin and Esther Castle.

For three decades, the Frolic revolved around a variety of special events from the parade and queen competitions to trail rides and carnivals. Then in 1983, organizers brought in a rodeo largely through the efforts of Carl, Walt and Paul Skirvin.

Frolic preview: Grand Parade heads in new direction

Get ready to set up your parade-viewing chairs in a different spot this year. The Philomath Frolic & Rodeo changed the Grand Parade’s route out of a recommendation from the local police department, board publicity chair Chris Workman said. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 8. “They’re looking to improve safety, try to…

Frolic preview: Volunteers ready for July 6-8 rodeo performances

The Philomath Frolic & Rodeo prides itself on the exceptional level of talent that works behind the scenes to keep the competitions moving along at a good pace each evening. Longtime fans that have attended in various locations around the country have likely run into those rodeos that just seem to drag on much longer…

This year, the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo reaches its 70th anniversary and although noteworthy, the major milestone will occur in five years.

“By the 75th, we’ll have the new arena in and the new stands, maybe new public restrooms by then … that’ll be big, the 75th will be huge,” Workman said.

As the Frolic enters its eighth decade, the theme of this year’s celebration is “Frolic until the cows come home.”

The rodeo action and the parade are always big draws but several other events are offered to provide fun opportunities for families, friends and neighbors in the community.

The Frolic’s cornhole tournaments return this year with the youth competing Thursday (5-7 p.m.), adults squaring off Friday (5-7 p.m.) and an open event Saturday (2-5 p.m.) with mixed teams of all ages and abilities (for example, husband-wife, father-daughter).

Said Workman, “The cornhole tournament is one of the most popular things right now.”

Prizes will be awarded for winners to use at the Frolic’s souvenir shack along with custom-made cornhole board sets.

“Les Schwab’s brought materials and Brad Pankalla on the board has built cornhole boards for everybody — they’ve got the Frolic logo on them,” Workman said. “The winners each night are going to get a set of those so that’s cool in itself and it’s a couple hundred dollars in value.”

The Home Run Derby kicks off the Frolic’s community events at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (participants can begin checking in at 6). The event will be held for the first time at the rodeo grounds on new fields that have been put in.

“They have the dugouts in and they’ve got temporary fencing that they’ll have installed before the Home Run Derby,” Workman said. “There’s a little debate about which field to go to because on either field, there’s the potential that they could be hitting balls clear out to 13th Street.”

Workman said that based on the configuration, the south field will likely be used with most batters being right-handed (but if a big-hitting lefty gets a hold of one — look out).

“We’ve been trying to encourage some of the adult softball leagues to get the word out to their teams and the Little League teams,” Workman said. “In years’ past, we’ve had coaches come in and just bring their whole team … We’ll see, it’s a fun event; we have a good time with that.”

The Philomath Frolic & Rodeo always needs volunteers to help with various tasks, especially those who take tickets at the gate and to help people find their seats in the stands.
For those interested, a meeting for volunteers is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Yew Wood Corral.
“”Show up Wednesday night and we’ll have you sign up for a Thursday or Friday or Saturday night, a three- or four-hour time slot,” publicity chair Chris Workman said.

The food booths, craftspeople and other types of vendors will operate all three days leading up to and during the rodeo performances. A new Frolic & Rodeo chairperson took over the responsibility of bringing in vendors this year and Workman said it appears that they will have up to 40 — which is about twice as many as in the past.

“It’s going to be a little tighter this year,” Workman said. “It’s a great problem to have and I do think a lot of those vendors are informational booths, nonprofits, that sort of thing, but there’s got to be at least a dozen food places.”

Workman mentioned that one vendor in particular that has been a Frolic mainstay for many years won’t be on site.

“One of my sad notes for this year is Altrusa isn’t going to be doing elephant ears — they’ve been there since long before me, I think 20-plus years probably,” Workman said. “That’s one of those booths that people just look forward to going to every year. … It’s not just the elephant ears that are gone but they’re just great people. It’s a great organization, they do a lot of good work in Benton County.”

The sidewalk chalk contest will run from 9-11 a.m. Friday at Philomath Community Library. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

The Sidewalk Chalk Roundup, a free sidewalk coloring contest that takes place at Philomath Community Library, will begin at 9 a.m. Friday and run for about two hours. Then on Saturday, several events will take place in the hours between the parade and the evening rodeo.

The 5K Family Fun Run begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the area behind the rodeo arena’s grandstands.

“The 5K starts at the rodeo grounds and then they’re going to run the parade route to the school and back,” Workman said. “We timed it and even if you’re a slow walker and want to walk the 5K … by 9:45, you’ll be at the school and you’ll get turned around and start heading back. You’d still be about 15 minutes before the parade.”

Workman likes the effect of people looking on to encourage the 5K participants.

“As people start showing up early to the parade, they’ll be there to cheer on the runners,” he said, “so that’s kind of a cool little Boston Marathon feel to it.”

The Professional Lumberjack Competition begins at 2 p.m. Saturday and typically lasts around three hours. Admission is free in an event that showcases timbersports skills.

“This is a full-on competition and they’ve got rules and they’re competing for money,” Workman said. “They all like each other but they all want to kick each others’ tails.”

Workman encourages folks to bring their own seating to the event, which has grown in popularity since it was first established and can draw over 100 people.

“There’s a novice bracket as well so if you are a local and you want to give it a try and have swung an ax a time or two, you can sign up,” Workman said.

The Frolic Fish Rodeo will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday at the rodeo grounds. Tickets for the event will be available beginning on site at 3 p.m.

The event is being hosted for the first time this year by the Philomath Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I’m excited to keep the event going,” Workman said. “It’s been going on for eight years now and it’s a draw. … We do about 200 fish that they’ll clean and cook up for everybody.”

Marys Peak Search and Rescue and the Philomath Lions Club continue their traditions of serving food at the Frolic. The search-and-rescue folks will host their chicken barbecue from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday and Saturday. And the Lions Club Annual Rodeo Breakfast will run from 7-10 a.m.

Also at the rodeo grounds, Heather’s Kids Korner with children’s activities will operate from 5-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 3-7 p.m. Saturday.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.